U.S. soldier flies to freedom after Afghan prisoner swap

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By Warren Strobel and David Brunnstrom BAGRAM AIR BASE, Afghanistan/WASHINGTON (Reuters) - T he sole American prisoner of war held in Afghanistan was flown to a U.S. military hospital in Germany on Sunday, after he was dramatically freed in a swap deal for five Taliban militants who were released from the Guantanamo Bay prison in Cuba. Army Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl had been held for nearly five years and his release, following years of on-and-off negotiations, suddenly became possible after harder-line factions of the Afghan Taliban shifted course and agreed to back it, according to U.S. officials. A U.S. defense official said Bergdahl was able to walk and became emotional on his way to freedom, after being handed over to U.S. special forces in eastern Afghanistan on Saturday. "The operators replied loudly: 'Yes, we've been looking for you for a long time.' And at this point, Sergeant Bergdahl broke down." U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said he hoped the successful prisoner exchange deal might lead to breakthroughs in reconciliation with the militants.